The Challenge of Incorporating Authentic Assessment into a Hybrid Field Methods Course in Physical Geography
We examine the challenge of supporting students' learning experience through authentic assessment in a second-year physical geography field course. The course, titled "Field Methods and Laboratory Analysis", provides students with an introduction to the principles and practice of field work and laboratory analytical techniques commonly employed in environmental earth sciences. This practical skills development is an essential element of the department's professionally accredited B.Sc. Hydrology programs. Students were required to perform tasks that demonstrate the application of their knowledge and skills to address problems faced by professionals in the field. Owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, we provided a compressed, hybrid delivery of the course in May 2021; 10 students chose to participate in-person while complying with COVID-19 protocols and 2 students chose to participate virtually.
The hybrid delivery model employed in this course demanded extra work from the course instructors, requiring contact time of 6-hour days in the field plus 1-hour on-line tutorials in alternate evenings. Students participating in-person or remotely in the course acquired comparable skills in data analysis, visualization, and interpretation. Students participating in-person, however, mentioned how the hands-on experience helped them see connections between disparate concepts and also between knowledge and practice, experiences that simply could not be replicated for the students participating remotely. Students participating in-person displayed excitement and growing confidence in mastering new skills through hands-on activities, whereas students participating remotely were compelled to be more focused on completing the assigned problem-solving exercises.